Comments Posted By brahma dasa

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Sridhar Swami and Mayapur

At $4000 to $5000 a week (not covered by health insurance) Gerson and Hippocrates retreats are beyond the means of most devotees. Their therapies, which are juiced based and vegan, are beneficial and can be practiced at home if one is determined and willing to buy an expensive juicer and give up fried foods, dairy, sugar, etc. They both claim to have had success in curing cancer but of course there is no guarantee, and on the internet you can find stories of desperate families who spent their savings and more fighting cancer through Hippocrates Institute to no avail.

However, now that ISKCON is financed largely by donations from its congregation it might be proper for centers to purchase health insurance for all its full time monastics, as does the Catholic Church.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 04.05.2014 @ 16:57

Why I am not vegan

In the United States alone, at any given time some 90 million cows, 65 million pigs, and billions of chickens etc. are being maintained for the purpose of slaughter.

Among these some 35 million cows, 112 million pigs, 8 billion chickens, and other species to a total of 9.1 billion animals were slaughtered in the US in 2013.

The running inventory of 90 million cows, plus the billions of other farm animals being maintained for slaughter produce millions of tons of dung that is currently used in agriculture.

Therefore if it’s B12 rich cow dung that you want than it would be practically impossible to beat the meat industry, which not only produces fertilizer for crops but also provides food for 300 million people in the US, and for much of the rest of the world as well.

The point being presentations attempting to promote cow protection from the material perspective cannot stand up to economic or ecological scrutiny. I include ecological because no accredited ecologist would support the idea of perpetually maintaining five cows for the sake of milking one. How many cows would have to be maintained to supply milk for 300 million people? How much grain would have to be planted to feed all the extra cows? How much oil would have to be burned to produce and ship the grain to feed all the extra cows?

However, cow protection, at least on a small scale, does make sense as a sadhana or spiritual practice because spiritual practice is not judged by the same criteria as materialistic efforts. For example, every Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. Three million Muslims do this every year even though going on pilgrimage doesn’t make any economic or ecological sense regardless of the religion one belongs to. Indeed, pilgrims are trampled to death almost every year at the Haj, and the same goes for Kumba Mela or Rathayatra in Puri. Still people go on pilgrimage because it is a spiritual practice, and for most some type of spiritual practice is a necessary part of life.

Similarly cow protection is a spiritual practice, a labor of love that fosters devotion and compassion–from this perspective (the spiritual perspective) it makes perfect sense.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 15.05.2014 @ 00:23

This article is not well balanced as it purposefully omits information crucial to an informed understanding of the matter.

To begin with it extols the value of cow dung in enriching the soil with B12 but gives short shift to the fact that any type of manure or organic compost does likewise including composted human waste. Indeed, the original 1978 master plan for Gita Nagari Eco Village called for composting toilets designed to turn human waste into fertilizer.

More importantly the article doesn’t mention anything of the cost in manpower and resources needed to maintain a protected dairy herd nor discuss whether or not such an endeavor is even possible without the support of donations.

And lets take a look at the pejorative the author was fond to bandy about in relation to vegan purists; the word “fanatic” which refers to a person who is inordinately or unreasonably enthusiastic about a cause, usually religious or political.

The question then is whether maintaining an ever-expanding herd of bulls and dry cows for the sake of a few milkers and a big pile of cow dung, is in this day and age a reasonable alternative to producing and shaking a little B-12 rich nutritional yeast on ones daily bowl of brown rice and veggies.

Nutritional yeast is cheep and easy to produce while the cost to maintain a protected dairy herd is prohibitory, and at this point cannot be accomplished without the support of donations and voluntary labor.

So between cow protection and vegan purism, which would be considered by most objective (non devotee) readers to be inordinately or unreasonably enthusiastic? Probably both.

The point is that it is the spiritual perspective that makes cow protection reasonable to the faithful. The material perspective is at best secondary.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 02.05.2014 @ 04:07

Ocean of Mercy: Bhakti Benefits for Doomed Cows?

Drinking cows milk is a material activity that is not essential (absolutely necessary) for spiritual development. If drinking milk were an intrinsically spiritual act then all the children in the world who were raised on cow’s milk would be spiritually advanced–but we see that they are not.

Drinking milk, like other material activities becomes spiritualized in association with bhakti.

Bhakti is User Friendly–it can be introduced and thrive in almost any situation. Therefore it matters not whether the practitioner is a Republican or a Democrat, lives in the city or the country, prefers Beethoven or the Beatles, or is a lacto-vegetarian or a vegan—Bhakti can be effectively practiced by all.

That is our philosophy in a nutshell.

Certain material circumstances may be more favorable than others for the cultivation of bhakti, but all considered bhakti is independent and can exert her influence anywhere, on anyone, at any time. If this is true for animal killers like Mrigari the Hunter, than why not for those involved in saving animals—such as Vegans?

I’m not saying anything revolutionary here —nothing against cow’s milk or varnasrama— My point is simply that the practice of bhakti is compatible with a vegan diet. This is just common sense.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 17.04.2014 @ 18:30

The question is not whether prasadam is essential to the practice of Krsna consciousness, but whether milk is essential to the offering of prasadam. The answer is no—milk is not essential.

Bhakti is the essential ingredient of any offering to Krsna.

Srila Prabhupada said that along with patram puspam phalam toyam “some liquid–water or milk” should be offered. Therefore if for health or moral reasons one cannot offer milk than water offered with devotion will suffice.

Of course, it is imperative to save oneself first, but drinking milk is not the prerequisite to salvation in Krsna consciousness. Bhakti is the prerequisite to salvation; indeed bhakti and salvation in Krsna consciousness are synonymous.

Bhakti can save everyone—including Vegans.

That’s our philosophy.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 14.04.2014 @ 04:24

To Whom it may concern:

Chanting Hare Krsna is an essential principle of Krsna consciousness—offering and drinking milk is not.

In the quotes provided Srila Prabhupada cites-patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati. Then he says to “take ordinary very nutritious food within the jurisdiction of Krsna-prasada—-And: that within these categories, whatever a devotee offers Me (Krsna) in love and devotion, I eat— And: patram, means vegetables, flowers, fruits, and phalam, fruits, and some liquid, water or milk.”

While milk is in the “jurisdiction” or “category” of Krsna prasada it is not absolutely essential to the offering. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada says that either “water or milk “can be offered. Ultimately the essential ingredient to every offering is bhaktya prayacchati—not milk.

Srila Prabhupada preached in the 60’s and 70’s when vegetarianism in America was in its infancy. Now vegetarianism is considered respectable and the vegan movement, which was unknown in his time, is in the forefront of the campaign against animal cruelty.

Srila Prabhupada said, “We should tax our brains as to what is the best way to present Krsna Consciousness to a particular people at a particular time and place.” (lecture 11/13/70)

To most vegans consuming supermarket milk is an act in support of animal cruelty—and they do have a point. Therefore we should tax our brains to accommodate these particular people (vegans) in this particular time, to the best of our ability. We should let them know that drinking milk is not essential to the practice of bhakti; and we should preach the philosophy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and live it such, that persons attracted to a cruelty free diet will also be attracted to chanting the holy name of Krsna.

AGAIN: The practice of Krsna consciousness goes perfectly well with a cruelty free vegan diet.

Brahma Das (ACBSP)

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 12.04.2014 @ 19:49

Srila Prabhupada knew that in the west (and now in India) milk cows were routinely slaughtered. When informed that milk was fortified with fish oil (vitamin D) he put his hands up in resignation and said, “Everything here is contaminated so what can we do.”

Regardless of these drawbacks it is clear that Srila Prabhupada encouraged the offering and consumption of milk. This is because milk products, which make vegetarianism easier and more enjoyable, are an important aspect of his movement of chanting, dancing, and feasting–and of course the scriptures tell us that Krsna is fond of milk products.

The Gita (3.13) says that food offered in sacrifice is free from sin, and (4.24) tells us that a life of sacrifice burns up all sinful activities. So we accept that milk is purified when it is offered with genuine devotion to Krsna. However, not everyone involved in Krsna consciousness is leading a life of complete sacrifice to Visnu; neither is everyone offering all they eat in sacrifice.

Outside of sacrifice the Gita says there are reactions to the things that we do. Therefore we should always remember that cows and their calves are slaughtered to provide the food that we eat more for enjoyment than for nourishment i.e. store bought ice cream, pizza, etc. and rarely is any of this truly offered in sacrifice. Better yet, we should consider giving up these things.

Indeed, vegans occupy the high ground in this regard. While many of us routinely eat unoffered milk products, vegans forgo this in consideration of the cruelty involved. This is laudable.

All considered, it is not necessary to offer and consume milk in order to practice Krsna consciousness therefore vegans should be accommodated and encouraged–not condemned.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 10.04.2014 @ 17:20

Devotees’ use commercially produced milk because it is a concession that was accepted by Srila Prabhupada—but it is not a rule. One does not have to drink or offer milk to practice Krishna consciousness. Bhagavad Gita 9.26 says that devotion (bhaktya prayacchati) is the essential element of any offering to Krsna—milk is not mentioned. Therefore it is not wrong for devotees to forgo commercially produced milk over the cruelty issue. Indeed, boycotting commercially produced milk is a practical way to display compassion for the plight of cows.

The idea that the tortured cows behind the supermarket milk offered to Krsna are benefited seems a bit of a stretch to me. If Srila Prabhupada specifically said this than someone should share the quote. Perhaps the efficacy of bhakti does come into play here—or are we simply rationalizing unnecessary cruelty by promoting this idea. It’s nice to think this…but is it respectable and virtuous to justify cruelty with such theology?


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 08.04.2014 @ 19:35

Powerful Food For Thought

Devotee: Śrīla Prabhupāda, should we call all the women “mother”?

Prabhupāda: Yes. And treat it like mother. Not only call, but treat it like mother.

Morning Walk — October 25, 1975, Mauritius:

When I joined Iskcon in 1972 both male and female devotees referred to each other as prabhu. Sometime later in the 70’s (as per the above quote) the men were told that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to address all women as mataji.

So contrary to Visakha Priya dasi’s testimony (posted below) the use of ‘mataji’ was being used in Iskcon during Srila Prabhupada’s time. Indeed, the use of mataji is not generally used in gaudiya math, there the use of di di or sister is more common.

(btw. Pusta Krsna prabhu was with Srila Prabhupada on the above posted morning walk).

“Somehow, in the late nineteen eighties, the “Prabhu/Mataji” syndrome developed, probably as the result of many disgruntled ISKCON devotees taking shelter of India after their gurus’ falldowns. Previous to that, most devotees would only visit India at Gaura Purnima time and we would call one another “Prabhu,” regardless of gender consideration.(Visakha Priya dasi )”

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 18.04.2013 @ 18:24

Why Veganism in Iskcon does not work, part 2

Where are the sustainable eco-friendly Iskcon cow-protection farms?

The author of this article writes: “I have not actually been able to find a Vegan producing farmstyle that is sustainable and eco friendly that actually follows its credentials. All of the Vegans that I know just shop at supermarkets, their local grocer, a farm shop producing “organic” vegetables and etc.”

The same could be said about Iskcon farms i.e. I have not been able to find an Iskcon cow protection farm that is sustainable. All of the devotees that I know just shop at supermarkets, etc.

Case in point: I was involved in fund raising for an Iskcon farm in the late 1970’s. It had a thriving community and a magnificent commercial dairy herd. The problem was that in order to survive the community and the dairy herd required the support of collections from a team of brahmacaries who lived outside the farm on a bus. Now, forty years later, the farm’s grand commercial dairy is gone, devotees are employed outside the farm, and donations to support cow protection are solicited on the website. To my knowledge this is the situation facing all Iskcon farms.

Service on Iskcon farms is of course bhakti so there is nothing wrong with collecting donations etc. but if a collective farm requires the support of donations and outside employment to survive can it honestly be called a sustainable farm?

So practice what you preach. Create a truly sustainable eco-friendly cruelty free commercial dairy farm that can supply abundant milk to everyone and then implore vegans to drink the cruelty free milk that you offer.

Until then let vegans be vegans, and preach the philosophy of Mahaprabhu and live it such that persons attracted to adopting a cruelty free diet will also be attracted to chanting the holy name of Krsna.

AGAIN: The practice of Vaisnavism goes perfectly well with a cruelty free vegan diet.

Brahma dasa

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 28.03.2013 @ 01:33


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